Three Ingredient Fruit Leather

Fruit leather is one of my favorite snacks. Making it is so gratifying, and you’ll know what your family’s eating-only three wholesome ingredents!

You’ll Need:

3 cups fresh organic fruit, your choice

2-3 tablespoons wild local honey, you can substitute sugar or sugar-substitute

2 tablespoons organic lemon juice

Here’s How:

Prepare 3-12×18-inch baking sheets, backside up, with silicone baking mats — preheat the oven to 170’F degrees.

Combine ingredients in a standing blender or food processor. Process until smooth. If you have a non-texture eater, strain the liquid through a mesh strainer into a clean bowl. Divide the fruit mixture to each pan about 1 cup each.

Using an offset spatula, create a very thin layer on each baking sheet.

Dehydrate in your oven for 4-6 hours, or until fruit leather is no longer sticky, which will vary depending on your oven and humidity level in your area.

Rotate the pans between oven racks and turn every hour until cooked — test by touching with the tip of your finger.

Remove from the oven. Cool and transfer fruit leather to a cutting board. Slice into desired sizes or shapes and wrap in parchment paper, wrapping or wax paper — store air-tight.

Buttered Baba Ganoush

Buttered Baba Ganoush -(Moutabal aka, baba ganoush)  is made with aubergines, tahini, pine nuts and plenty of garlic.

Beautiful and exotic — these are two words that best describe a delicate, aubergine. They come in so many varieties. Most commonly seen are the lavender to purple varieties, but what many of us didn’t know, is that ….  Aubergines are grown around the world; yet their appearance are so different based on thier geographical locations.

Many of you might be surprised they are so exotic. Aubergines grow in a variety of locations around the world just like many other vegetables. Yes, there’s more to aubergines than the purple kind. Think about how interesting that is for a moment. In Italy, a tomato looks the same as a tomato grown in China or the United States, however– this is not true for aubergine. Africa, China, France, India, Italy, Ukraine, and the USA are a few countries that produce aubergine, and all of them come in different shapes, sizes and colors.

In Thailand, they are called, Thai Yellow Eggs and they harvest as beautiful yellow fruit that are small and literally shaped like a chicken egg.

In Cambodia they cultivate, The Cambodian Green Giant. As you might have guessed, this fruit is large with skin that’s a unique light-color with green stripes.

Another international heirloom aubergines is the Rosa Bianca variety. It is from Italy, proudly flaunting a skin in shades of lavender and also blushing pinks.

From Africa, the Goyo Kumba aubergine. A stunning variety that is unusually tall and attractive.  They can be planted for their fruits or even just as ornaments. Africa produces bright red fruit that are stunningly eye-catching.

In Brazil, aubergine grows oval and orange. This variety has very attractive fruit that changes color as it matures – from green to orange to red.

Other international varieties of aubergine include Ping Tung Long from Taiwan, Japanese White Egg from Japan, Udmalbet from India and Listada de Gandia from other areas in Italy.

Popular backyard garden varieties of aubergines are Dusky varities, which takes 60 days to mature, Epics, Black Bells and Black Magics with fruits maturing at 72 days from seed to harvest.

There are so many ways to prepare aubergine but my favorite is the smokey, rich and creamy dip– hailing from areas of Mesopotamia.

Buttered Baba Ganoush

You’ll Need

2 large aubergines, slashed with a sharp knife- lengthways 4 to 5 times

2-4 large fresh garlic cloves, peeled and cleaned

2 Tablespoons tahini paste

Juice of ½ lemon (or more to your taste)

1 Tablespoon fine quality olive oil

4 oz. unsalted butter ( or Vegan Sub)

2 Tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

1½ Tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

2 Tablespoons fresh chives, chopped small

1 teaspoon fresh smoked paprika, for garnish

Here’s How

Wash, dry and lightly oil aubergines. Place on a hot, well oiled grill. Cook for 20-30 minutes, turning often until well charred and completely soft.

Cool, split them open lengthways and scrape the fleshy meat into a bowl, cutting as close to the skin as possible without taking any of the charred skin.

Place aubergine flesh in a food processor with garlic, tahini, lemon juice and olive oil Pulse. taste to adjust seasoning. (The tahini should be subtle and the lemon juice should not dominate). Season with sea salt to taste. Aubergines are like sponges and soak up as much flavor as you give them, so season well and bring out the flavors.

Place butter in a small pan and bring to a very low simmer. Use a spoon to disgard any white milky fat solids that rise to the top. Place the now, “Moutabal” in a beautiful shallow bowl and run the back of a spoon over the top in a spiral or a zig-zag formation–(  like frosting a cake).

Pour on the warmed clarified butter on top– taking care to leave white solids behind in the pan.

Garnish by sprinkling with toasted pine nuts, chopped parsley, chopped chives and dust with smoked paprika.

*Serve with Flatbreads and a variety of freshly cut raw vegetables. Also delicious on roasted meats.  

It’s all about the dressing

Summer salads are a great way to explore what’s in season while introducing your little one to new flavors. Dips, dressings, that little something extra is what makes a difference from the little one turning his or her nose up to diving right in. Dressing doesn’t need to come in a bottle. It’s something you can make at home with your little ones. Get them involved. See which flavor they like. Then, try mixing the dressings with produce. What do you like with the raspberry vinaigrette? Is there something that the balsamic is better with? (Try strawberries, feta and spinach with the last one. It’s a simple, warm weather healthy addition to any meal.)

Today, it’s all about the dressings. Maybe you end up with a variety of them in your home to meet individual tastes. That’s OK!! These are homemade and fresh. Each recipe makes enough to dress salad for four. If you find one that everyone likes, consider doubling or tripling the recipes and storing it in a mustard or jam jar. Before to shake before serving. These dressings should stay fresh for a week.

Citrus vinaigrette

  1. In a saucepan, simmer ½ cup of orange juice, ¼ cup lime juice and 2 Tbsp. lemon juice for 4 minutes or until 1/3 cup remains. Pour into a bowl.
  2. Whisk 1 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar, minced red chile, a large minced shallot, chopped mint, ½ tsp. each grated orange and lemon zests, 1 tsp. Dijon mustard, kosher salt and black pepper.
  3. Whisking continuously, slowly add ¼ cut extra-virgin olive oil until emulsified.

 

Balsamic vinaigrette

  1. Whisk together 3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar (white or dark), 1 ½ Tbsp. warm water, 1 tsp. Dijon mustard and ½ tsp. of each minced garlic, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  2. Whisking continuously, slowly pour in 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil until emulsified.

 

Mustard-herb vinaigrette

  1. In a blender, puree 1 hard-cooked egg yolk (this makes the dressing extra creamy, 3 Tbsp. white wine vinegar, 1 Tbsp. each grainy Dijon mustard and water, and ½ tsp. each of minced garlic, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  2. With blender running, slowly add 5 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil until emulsified. Pour into a bowl; stir in 2 tsp. chopped fresh tarragon, chervil, basil or parsley.

 

Fresh raspberry vinaigrette

  1. In a blender, puree ¾ cup fresh raspberries with ¼ cup reduced sodium chicken broth.
  2. Scrape puree through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl and discard seeds.
  3. Into the puree, whisk 2 Tbsp. canola oil, 1 Tbsp. each of apple cider vinegar and minced shallot, 2 tsp. Dijon honey mustard and ¼ tsp. each of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper until emulsified.

 

Sesame-ginger vinaigrette

  1. Whisk together 2 tsp. grated fresh ginger, 1 tsp. each of minced garlic and sugar, and 2 Tbsp. each of rice vinegar and soy sauce.
  2. While whisking, slowly add ¼ cut peanut or canola oil and 1 Tbsp. toasted Asian sesame oil until emulsified. Stir in 1 Tbsp. snipped fresh chives and 1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds.

 

Chipotle-honey-lime vinaigrette

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk 3 Tbsp. lime juice, 1 minced chipotle chile in adobo sauce, 1 ¼ tsp. each or honey and ground cumin, and ½ tsp. each of minced garlic and kosher salt.
  2. Whisking continuously, slowly add 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil until emulsified. Stir in 1 Tbsp. chopped cilantro.

Planning healthy habits

Did you ever notice how difficult it is to eat healthy when hunger strikes? Your little one wants a snack; you go to the kitchen and start looking around. Often we find ourselves in this situation. The key to keeping it healthy is planning. I know! We’re all busy. In the spirit of spring cleaning and getting organized, consider organizing snacks with a snack station.

Inspired by Realsimple.com, today’s idea is a grab-and-go snack stashes.

Using a larger bin – consider Tupperware, something that can be cleaned easily – place a variety of snacks that can be mixed and matched for treats. You can use snack size sandwich bags to portion out orange slice, baby carrots, celery sticks, pepper slices. You can even rotate these treats to showcase whatever is seasonal, like berries. Include grapes, lunch meat roll-ups (like turkey and Swiss of ham and cheddar), yogurt, string cheese and, for dipping, a jar of peanut butter and hummus.

Make a habit of refilling your snack station one day a week, say Sunday night. Once it’s ready, you can tell your kids to grab something when you’re busy without worry. And, you can pick up a small bag on your way out to the many baseball and soccer games going on. Those chips are tempting, but not the best option for your little one – or you.

How will you personalize your snack station?

Orange Smiles with a Jelly Twist

Most children have stuck an orange slice in their mouth and smiled. The peel making a comical smile is a childhood favorite. And, since slices of citrus will always be a healthy snack, this tradition will continue. In the spirit of April Fool’s Day this weekend, let’s add a twist to this favorite with blood orange jelly smiles. This can be made with any kind of citrus – like tangerines or navel oranges. Choose whichever your kids will try. But the blood oranges offer the most dramatic look. Consider serving these side-by-side with real slices of blood oranges. See if anyone can tell the difference!

 

Ingredients

6 blood oranges
1 packet of plain gelatin
Sugar or honey (optional to taste)  

Instructions

  1. Buy a sack of blood oranges.
  2. Get some plain gelatin. (You can find this in the baking aisle near the regular Jell-O.)
  3. Cut 6 oranges in half. (You can always multiply this recipe to make more.)
  4. Squeeze out the juice. Here’s where this project can be a little tricky. You want to squeeze out as much juice as possible without damaging the orange peel. Consider using a traditional manual juicer. Go slowly and twist each half so it’s as clean as possible.
  5. Scrape out any extra strings or flesh. Again, you want the peel intact, so if you can’t get everything out, it’s OK. A little extra orange flesh won’t mess this up.
  6. Put each orange peel shell into a muffin tin to hold them steady when you pour in the gelatin.
  7. Soften the gelatin. Measure 1/4 cup cold water in a glass measuring cup. Sprinkle 1 packet of plain gelatin into the water and let it sit.
  8. Heat the orange juice to boiling. Measure out about 3/4 cup of the juice. Also, this is where you can add a little sugar or honey, if you want to sweeten the juice. Taste and sweeten as needed. Bring the juice to a boil.
  9. Mix gelatin and juice. Take the boiling juice off the heat and whisk in the gelatin. Pour the juice and gelatin mixture back into the glass measuring cup.
  10. Fill orange peel shells. Fill each orange peel cup with the gelatin mixture, and put the muffin tins into the fridge to cool. The orange jelly will need 2-3 hours to set completely.
  11. Trim, slice, and serve! The filling should firm up and be quite stiff. Once it is hard enough, slice into wedges.